I Haven’t Filed Taxes in 10 Years – What Should I Do?

Woman fails to file her taxes for 10 years

Not filing taxes for an extended period can be a source of stress and uncertainty. However, it’s crucial to address the issue and get back on track. This comprehensive guide will explain what to do if you haven’t filed taxes in 10 years and how to regain control of your tax situation through a variety of financial options.

Failing to file taxes for 10 years can have severe financial and legal consequences. The IRS imposes penalties for not filing, and interest accrues on any unpaid taxes, resulting in a larger tax liability over time. Additionally, not filing taxes can lead to losing valuable tax refunds, tax credits, and tax deductions, as well as potentially facing legal action from the IRS.

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Consequences with the IRS

When you don’t file taxes for an extended period, the IRS may eventually take notice and initiate a collection process. This process can include sending you notices, assessing penalties and interest, and taking more severe collection actions such as wage garnishment, tax liens, or levies on your property.

To avoid these consequences, it’s essential to take action and address your unfiled tax returns as soon as possible. By filing any missing individual tax return or business tax return, and working with the IRS to resolve your tax liability, you can minimize the potential penalties and prevent more severe consequences.

How to Get Back on Track After a Decade of Unfiled Taxes

If you haven’t filed taxes in 10 years, the first step to getting back on track is to gather all the necessary tax documents and information. This includes income records, such as W-2s and 1099s, as well as records of tax deductions, tax credits, and expenses. If you’re missing any documents, you can request copies from the IRS or your employer.

Once you have all your tax documents in order, follow these steps to address your unfiled taxes and regain control of your tax situation:

Check Your Status with the IRS

Before you can address your unfiled taxes, it’s essential to know your current status with the IRS. You can request a transcript of your tax account from the IRS, which will show any taxes you owe, penalties assessed, and any payments you’ve made. This information will help you determine the extent of your tax liability and any penalties or interest that may apply.

Unfiled taxes can also impact your disability benefits as well as retirement benefits. For instance, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are based on your work history and taxes paid. Inaccurate records due to unfiled taxes may lead to reduced disability benefits or retirement benefits.

Fees, Penalties, Interest, and Back Taxes

The IRS imposes a penalty for late tax filing, even if you don’t owe any taxes. This penalty is typically 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that the return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. Additionally, the IRS charges interest on any unpaid taxes from the due date of the return until the date the taxes are paid in full.

Man worrying about his tax penalties

To calculate the fees, penalties, and interest you owe, refer to the tax penalties assessed by the IRS and the list of potential penalties that may apply to your situation. This information will help you determine the total amount you owe to the IRS and allow you to plan for payment.

Negotiating Payment

If you owe taxes, penalties, and interest to the IRS, you may need to negotiate through different settlement options such as a payment plan to resolve your tax debt and to possibly obtain penalty abatement. The IRS offers several payment options, including short-term payment plans, long-term installment plans, and offers in compromise, which allow you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount owed.

To determine the best option for your situation, consult with a tax professional or tax attorney who can help you assess your financial circumstances and negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. By working with a tax expert, you can increase your chances of resolving your tax debt through favorable settlement options.

File the Missing Tax Returns

The next step is to file your missing tax return or returns, and in the case of a business, any business tax forms that may be relevant. Start with the oldest unfiled return and work your way forward, ensuring that you accurately report your income, tax deductions, and tax credits or any standard deduction for each tax year. You may need to seek assistance from a tax professional or tax attorney to ensure that your returns are filed correctly.

Filing your missing tax returns will help you establish good faith with the IRS and demonstrate your commitment to resolving your tax issues. Additionally, filing your returns may help you qualify for tax refunds, tax credits, or tax deductions that you would otherwise lose due to unfiled taxes.

If you haven’t filed taxes in 10 years, it’s essential to take action and address your unfiled tax returns ASAP.

Still have questions? Take a look at our FAQ section below!


Time limit for not filing taxes

There is no specific time limit for avoiding filing your taxes. However, the longer you wait, the more severe the consequences can become, including penalties, interest, and potential legal action by the IRS. It’s essential to file your taxes as soon as possible to minimize these consequences and resolve any tax issues.

Reasons for not filing tax returns

Some common reasons people don’t file their tax returns include procrastination, fear of owing taxes, lack of understanding about the tax system, or life events that cause financial or emotional stress. Regardless of the reason, it’s crucial to address an unfiled tax return and resolve any tax issues to avoid potential penalties and legal consequences.

IRS consequences for 20 years of unfiled taxes

If you haven’t filed taxes for 20 years, the IRS can take several actions, including assessing penalties and interest, filing a substitute return on your behalf, placing a federal tax lien on your property, garnishment of wages, or even pursuing criminal penalties and criminal charges in extreme cases. To avoid these consequences, it’s essential to file any missing tax return and resolve any tax debts as soon as possible.

How to repay back taxes for past non-filing?

The most effective method for repaying back taxes depends on your individual financial situation and the amount you owe. Some financial options include short-term payment plans, long-term installment plans, or offers in compromise. Consulting with a tax professional or tax attorney can help you determine the best approach for your specific circumstances. Look up an attorney directory for guidance on finding a good attorney for your case.

Consequences of not filing taxes

The consequences of not filing taxes can include penalties for failure to file, failure to pay, and accuracy-related penalties. The IRS may also assess interest on unpaid taxes, file a substitute return on your behalf, place a tax lien on your property, or resort to garnishment of your wages. In extreme cases, the IRS can pursue criminal charges for tax evasion or fraud. To avoid these consequences, it’s essential to file your taxes on time and resolve any outstanding tax issues.

Additionally, unfiled taxes can have a negative impact on your mortgage loan applications. Lenders typically require proof of income through tax returns to assess your financial stability and ability to repay the loan. If you have not filed taxes, this could lead to difficulty in obtaining a mortgage loan or unfavorable loan terms. Furthermore, a tax lien placed on your property due to unpaid taxes can also hinder your chances of securing a mortgage loan, as it signifies a higher risk to the lender.

In most cases, not filing taxes is considered a civil matter, and you won’t face jail time. However, if the IRS suspects that you have willfully evaded paying taxes or engaged in tax fraud, you could face criminal charges and potential jail time. It’s essential to address any unfiled tax return and work with the IRS to resolve any tax debt to avoid severe consequences and maintain your financial credibility, especially when it comes to mortgage loans and other financial opportunities.